Pastor’s Desk

I think my father was conned into buying a set of encyclopaedias from ‘a door to door’ salesman. He had just become a father and he wanted his children to get a good start in life by being better educated. So into our home came a set of Arthur Mee’s, Childrens Encyclopaedias, they looked very impressive, expensive and out of date. I remember picking up one of the volumes and I turned to the section about space. There I read an article that told me that it would be extremely unlikely that men would be able to travel to the moon. When I read those words Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had just walked on the moon. The volumes were out of date and to me untrustworthy. I am sure that when they were first written the knowledge within those volumes would probably be as up to date and as trustworthy as could be, but the world had moved on.

It seems to me that for most people the Bible is simply a strange book, a large book, to big to be read old book, certainly an interesting book, but one that should be put in a museum. How can, a book 2,000 years old be trustworthy? The world has moved on and we know better now.

As believers in Jesus, we don’t say that. The Bible is our primary source and authority; it is God’s Word to us and we know it to be utterly trustworthy. It is a true Word from God, that can never be outdated, always relevant in which God speaks to our world and ourselves each and every day.

Has modern man become immune to the Bible? Is this because people don’t see the Bible; this 2,000 year old book to have any relevance to their lives? It seems so. It also doesn’t help that many churches have lost confidence in the Bible when it comes to telling the Good News of Jesus, they prefer a ten minute motivational pep talk, films, drama, dance and even puppets to God’s Word. We have evangelistic courses, evangelistic films, evangelistic discussions, and evangelistic café rather than God’s Word preached from the Bible. If churches aren’t believing that the Bible is trustworthy and relevant why should the unbelieving world think otherwise.

The Bible and the preaching of the Bible is the normal and usual way that God brings people, through the work of the Holy Spirit to eternal life in Jesus.

It is time not only to tell the unbelieving world that God exists, but that He has a book that is trustworthy with His very own words; that they must read and hear and believe it to have to have eternity with Jesus.    

Pastor’s Desk

In June NASA the American space agency announced that it was planning two missions to the planet Venus. It is going to cost millions of pounds to do so.

But why do it? The answer from the NASA spokesman was that they wanted to find out why the planet has become what it is today?

Venus has been described as Earth’s evil twin. It is about the same size as our planet, it has a sulphurous atmosphere, the pressure on the surface of Venus is about 50 times that on Earth and it is hot, very hot there on Venus the metal lead would be liquid.

The obvious answer to NASA’s question [and you do not need millions of pounds to know it] is that it is to near the Sun. Venus is in the wrong place; whereas our planet is in the right place.

Scientist say that planet Earth is in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ that is it is the correct distance away from the Sun to sustain life. More than that of course it has the best atmosphere for life to thrive and it is also just the right size to hold on to its atmosphere [unlike Mars]. Everything about our planet is just right.

Have you ever asked the question Why?

The Bible gives us the answer because life on Earth has been planned and created.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” Genesis Chapter 1 verse 1.

“Then God said, “Let there be . . . and there was.” Genesis chapter 1 verse 3.

From the Pastor’s Desk.

The Bible is a big book, in fact it is a library of 66 books in all.

Where should you start to read the Bible?

You can do what I did when I first started to read the Bible. I started at the beginning with the first book Genesis and the first chapter. It was great to start off with, so many wonderful and amazing stories, but after struggling through the next book Exodus I came to Leviticus and I gave up. A better way to read the Bible is to start near the end at the New testament with one of the Gospels such as Mark, it is the shortest, but any of the Gospels is a good start.

 I want to give some advice about reading the Bible, because it is God’s Word, and it can seem complicated and difficult, but it really isn’t; as long as we do one of 2 things.

 1] Ask God in prayer to help you read it. After all it is God’s Word and He wrote it down for us so that we can understand what He wants us to know.

2] Read it simply. What I mean by this is we must not over complicate what the Bible says. Rather whatever it says take at face value and believe it.

For example: in the very first verse of the Bible [Genesis 1 verse 1] it says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” So, what do those words tell us?

God created everything; heavens and the earth and He created us. It tells us that we have a Creator and because of that, we belong to God. We didn’t just happen by a series of happy coincidences starting from some organic chemical pool, billions of years ago. We were simply born into existence by God. If we try and over complicate things by asking “How did God create us?” then we move away from what God wants us to know. From the Bible and its simple statement of fact we can say we are created by God.

Believing that gives us a foundation of a  ‘Biblical’ worldview which is very different to the views of many in the world. But seeing this statement from the Bible as truth it then enables us to believe all of scripture as being true, which it is!

Because all scripture is true and Jesus said that it is. [John 17:17; “Your Word is Truth.”] Then we know that all the promises of God are true. Such as John chapter 3 verse 16 [ God so loved the world that He gave His only Son [Jesus] that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life]. That verse is totally true.

It is important to us that the Bible is true, our whole eternity with God depends on it. Therefore, because the Bible is God’s Word to us, we must not ignore it, disbelieve it or accept only parts of it, rather we must read it, study it, know it, and meditate upon it.

As a pastor I like to see worn out Bibles.

So, keep on reading and believing.

Something to think about.

 Should Christians vote in elections?

A couple of weeks ago we had the local council elections. I was left in something of a dilemma, who should I vote for. There were 2 lists of candidates one for the regional mayor and one for the Police and Crimes Commissioner. I didn’t know any of their names or their views. I don’t think it was my fault, it was just because of the pandemic there was nobody going around the doors and no literature, coming through the post. For me I confess it was very confusing; who do you vote for?

However, this got me thinking “Should Christians vote?” Now you might think what a silly question. Of course, we should vote. For some ‘Christian’ groups the answer would be no!

What does the Bible say?

To answer that question; we need to go to Romans chapter 13. Verses 1-7, but verse 1 is the important one to note.

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” [NKJV]

What this means is that there are 2 institutions appointed by God in this world. One is the Church and the other is the secular authority. One is concerned about the eternal salvation of the individual and the community’s spiritual well-being. The other is to be concerned about the maintenance of law and order, the health, wealth and physical well-being of its people and the protection of the Church as it seeks to go out with the Gospel and build up the Kingdom of God on earth.

Of course, both are failures in what they are seeking to achieve, that is because we live in a fallen world and people are sinful too. That doesn’t mean that both organisations shouldn’t try to do better with God’s help.

Further the role of the local church or a national grouping of churches is to be that of guardians of God’s Word and to speak out when local governments or the national government are promoting laws contrary to God’s Word.

Where then does that leave us when it comes to voting? I suggest not in party politics.

We need to challenge candidates about their views on issues directly related with “What the Bible says.” There is a whole range of subjects that the church [local] should engage in with local politicians and a larger grouping of churches should engage with national politicians.

The politicians may not accept our views but we have a right and I think a mandate from God, as the Church, to express those teachings which we find from the Bible. The trouble is that of the two great institutions that God has appointed for our world; the one [Government] has moved away from God’s Word and the other [the Church] has remained silent.

For the sake of the Gospel the Church and indeed the local church cannot and must not be silent on issues that are ungodly, the promotion of which will send many away from God to hell itself.

There is to be a great Day of Judgement when everyone will be brought before our Lord Jesus who is Judge and Lord of all. Will we be ashamed before the Lord because we kept silent and rebuked by the lost because we did not tell them?  

Pastor’s Desk.

Thoughts on Small churches.

Over the last 40 years I have been involved in both large, middle and small sized churches. Probably middle sized [100 member] churches are the ideal. However, the ones that I feel passionate about are smaller churches. Large churches are just too big. My ministry started by being involved in a church planting work in Bala, North Wales.

Here are some thoughts:-

1] The danger of being a ½ empty church rather than being a ½ full church.

This happens when a church used to be large/middle sized and now has become smaller. The tendency is to think back to what was considered or thought to be better days.

Whereas a church plant is often seen as an exciting work, where every person and every work are important. When you think back there was nothing there.

2] The failure to remember that the church is God’s Church. We can have the mindset that it is all down to us.

We are small because of us, it is our fault. Because we aren’t doing enough, not working hard enough, haven’t got enough vision etc,. Then we can get depressed by it all and lose our joy in the church, in the work and even in God.

3] Need to ask a question why is the church small?

There could be any number of reasons for this. Sin, geography, the age in which we live. [when I was first in the ministry a small church was then a church of about 100], traditions rather than doctrine. Even to such things as what does the church look like from the street, is there a good welcome, do people feel comfortable in the building; or again does anyone know that we are a church or even there?

Publicity, education, social concern are things to consider. Do people know what a church is about, apart from hatches, matches and dispatches.

Is it small because God wants it to be small?

Pros and Cons of a small church compared to a large one.

Pros:-

Every single person in a small church is important.

Much closer and deeper fellowship.

You can get things done quickly [ you don’t always need a committee or church meeting to plan something].

There shouldn’t be to much in the way of cliches.

The services can be much more informal and personal.

Little in the way of church politics.

Problems are often fewer and smaller and can be dealt with quite quickly.

Cons:-

Fewer people to do things, often it is the same people doing most of the things in the church.

Less money to pay for pastors, outreach, equipment and publicity, missions and missionary support.

The gifts in the church might be limited; ie musicians and music.

The teaching, preaching and evangelistic ministry of the church might not be the best. Training in the church might be limited.

Again when certain key individuals leave the church or get sick then the church can look very frail.

It has often been said that the future of any church is only one generation, and that is for big and small churches alike [I have known some ‘big’ churches implode and cease to exist].

Crowds attract a crowd and one of the biggest problems for a small church is to attract people through its doors.

Small churches aren’t always good at cultural changes. [neither are big ones for that matter.]

Positives for all churches small, middle and large.

A] God does not change. His desire is for people to have eternal life through believing in His Son Jesus.

B] The mission of the church has not changed. To go out into all the world with the Gospel. Matthew 28:18-20.

C] The Gospel has not changed and it is still through God, the power of salvation to everyone who believes. Romans 1:16.

D] The Bible has not changed. The Word of God provides us with all that we need to know in order to serve our Lord Jesus. 2.Timothy 3:16-17.

E] The effectiveness of prayer has not changed. We can call on God our Father and He answers the prayers of His church, big or small.

A book to read: The Big Picture for Small Churches. John Benton E.P 2020.

A challenge to us: Pray that God would build His church.

Pastor’s Desk.

“This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts of the Apostles chapter 1 verse 11[b].

It seems we have spent 12 months just waiting. Waiting to get out of a Lockdown, waiting to have a haircut, waiting for the ‘R’ number to come down and waiting for certain dates on the route map out of the pandemic.

There is a lot of waiting in the Bible too. After Adam was told about the coming of the Messiah, Jesus we have many hundreds of years. The Jewish people while slaves in Egypt had to wait 400 years before they could leave and go to the promised land. Jesus had to wait 30 years before He began His public ministry. The disciples waited 3 days before the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; then a further 50 days before with the power of the Holy Spirit they preached the Gospel to the world.

The Christian Church is still waiting for something else to take place and that is the return of Jesus Christ as the King and Lord of all.

Are you prepared for the return of Jesus?

From the pastor’s desk.

Micah 5:2.

Little Bethlehem smallest of the towns of Judah – from you came the Lord Jesus, He who would be ruler over Israel. Jesus of course is much more than that. He is ruler and Lord of all.

This verse is an encouragement to the smallest of churches, smallest of ministries; for out of them can come something big and of eternal value for the Kingdom of God. The Bible tells us that we are not to despise the day of small things, but out of acorns a mighty oak can grow.

From a word the creation came into existence. God said and it was. Jesus spoke “Lazarus come forth” and the dead man became alive once more. God could well speak another word, “It is finished!” and the earth would dissolve, fallen creation simply melt away.

Then God could say another word, and the church which seems so weak, vulnerable and frail would become a mighty sword in God’s hand to the destruction of the devil’s kingdom.

O Lord do this for your little church here at Saltford. May it be a true sword in the hand of King Jesus. Amen.

A Mouse Story…

In the autumn I was weeding the veg patch and this small field mouse was trying its utmost to get into the compost bin via the little door. It was throwing itself at the door, about 15cm off the ground, chewing for all it was worth for 3 or 4 minutes then slumping to the floor in exhaustion. After a rest it would have another go and I watched it have about 10 attempts, each lasting about 3 – 4 minutes before it gave up. I guessed it might be a Mummy mouse looking for somewhere to build a nest for winter.

Today I was emptying the compost bin and to my horror realised I had disturbed a nest of these field mice. I had sliced off the side, showing a tiny furry baby mouse, blind I think and barely able to move. Shortly after, Mummy mouse appeared around the side of the diminishing compost heap to assess the threat level to her nest and brood. Deciding it was red alert, she legged it.

Shortly afterwards one of the babies fell out of the nest. What was I going to do now? Clearly it couldn’t survive, as Mummy mouse had gone. I carefully scooped it up and placed it under the fence. A couple of minutes later out of the corner of my eye, a flash of movement as Mummy mouse picked up her offspring by the scruff of the neck and scurried off with it next door.

Two more babies ended up falling out so I put those in the same place. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later each time, Mummy mouse retrieved her offspring. We put the un-rotted compost back in the bin and really hope the family will come back to their home. Shouldn’t be disturbed again until next year.

I really thought that Mummy muse had abandoned her babies to save her own skin, but I was dead wrong. She put her own life in danger to collect each of her babies. Sometimes we think God doesn’t care that much when we go through difficult times, also dead wrong. Sometimes he allows us to get into a difficult situation so that we pray more and seek his face. It’s usually through trials that we prove how much he really does love us.